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  • holmar@jps.net
    I found the following quote in the first of four lectures by Steiner titled Occult Signs and Symbols , which can be found on the Rudolf Steiner Archive web
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 10, 2000
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      I found the following quote in the first of four lectures by Steiner
      titled "Occult Signs and Symbols", which can be found on the "Rudolf
      Steiner Archive" web site .

      "What does a man work into his astral body? What we call goodness and
      common sense. If you observe a savage who is still on the level of a
      cannibal, blindly following his passions, you must say of him that he
      stands lower than the animals because the animal still has no
      understanding, no consciousness of his deeds. Man, however, even the
      lowest, already has an ego. The more highly educated person can be
      distinguished from the savage through the fact that he has already
      worked on his astral body. Certain passions he has so understood that
      he says to himself, "This one I may follow, this other I may not
      follow." Certain urges and passions he fashions to more refined
      configurations, which he calls his ideal. He forms moral concepts.
      All these are transformations of his astral body. The savage cannot
      do arithmetic or make judgments. This property man has acquired
      through work on his astral body from incarnation to incarnation. What
      develops as man gradually ennobles his present imperfect form to
      become that being of light of whom we spoke; this is called the
      assimilation of wisdom. The more wisdom the astral body contains, the
      more luminous it will be."

      I assume Steiner means by the term savage a member of an aboriginal
      tribe as can be found in a place such as Australia,or perhaps the
      term savage even includes people such as native Americans. Does
      Steiner really mean to say that an Australian aborigine cannot learn
      arithmetic. There have certainly been aborigines who have attended
      universities and earned degrees. I remember from an class I once
      took in physical anthropology, that members of different species
      cannot produce offspring. Human beings between different races can
      certainly have healthy normal children. And therefore every human on
      earth is a member of the same species. It appears from scientific
      research that a very small group of humans gave rise to all humans
      which are now dispersed all over the earth..
      Steiner lectures " This property man has acquired through work on
      his astral body from incarnation to incarnation". Does this imply
      that "savages" on average are born with a lesser developed astral
      bodies than those who began life in a modern nation state. I have
      met individuals of any color or race, who don't fit into the savage
      or cannibal category and yet are perfectly content to live their
      lives "blindly following their passions".
      I was disturbed reading the above quoted lines. Perhaps, I hope,
      there is something that I don't understand correctly. I can't
      believe that Steiner is a racist. Maybe somebody can shed some light
      on this for me.
      Holger.
    • elaine upton
      Dear Holger, Thanks for your question. You have touched on what is a major controversy within and without the Anthroposophical Society--namely, the controversy
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 11, 2000
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        Dear Holger,
        Thanks for your question. You have touched on what is a major controversy
        within and without the Anthroposophical Society--namely, the controversy
        over whether Steiner was racist, anti-semitic, etc. What did he mean by
        calling certain people, as you say, "savage"? What did he mean by calling
        certain people "backwards"? Etc. (Of course, some will say there are issues
        of translation from the German here, but I am pretty good at German, and i
        think the translations of "backward" and "savage" seem close enough to what
        Steiner said.)

        We could go on with examples. The internet is full of these examples of
        Steiner's *alleged* racism, etc. I used to be on the Task Force of the
        Anthroposophic Society in America, the Task Force on Race/ism...and we had
        long, serious, often painful discussions of these issues. In my experience,
        there is no easy answer.

        There are those who say that for the most part Steiner's words are not
        racist, anti-semitic, etc., and those ones will cite his good deeds and good
        relationship with Jews or others, or will cite his favorable words on such
        issues. But then, there are things that, to my mind, cannot easily be
        explained away.

        Some say that Steiner had two aspects: 1) he was a great initiate with lots
        of wisdom, and 2) he was a man of his time, with the biases and limits of
        the thinking of his place and time.

        Others (the infamous Dan Dugan, for example--see his attacks on Waldorf
        Schools...) say that Steiner is out and out racist, or that he is not a real
        scientist or that his ideas fed the Nazis or that Waldorf schools are places
        of religious indoctrination and intolerance, and so on ....you name it!

        My own view: Steiner said some unfortunate things. Still, I find he gave us
        much that is of immense value. I somehow live with this tension. Steiner was
        not perfect, and some things he said do disturb me. Even so, as i said, his
        work has immense value (in many, not all, areas), for me.

        I hope you find your own way with the teachings, life , being that was
        Steiner. He is gone on now, and i hope it is to a more enlightened state
        (even as we all may do).

        I imagine others on this list will have helpful responses to you.

        Best wishes,
        elaine


        >From: holmar@...
        >Reply-To: anthroposophy@egroups.com
        >To: anthroposophy@egroups.com
        >Subject: [anthroposophy] question
        >Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 02:49:01 -0000
        >
        >I found the following quote in the first of four lectures by Steiner
        >titled "Occult Signs and Symbols", which can be found on the "Rudolf
        >Steiner Archive" web site .
        >
        >"What does a man work into his astral body? What we call goodness and
        >common sense. If you observe a savage who is still on the level of a
        >cannibal, blindly following his passions, you must say of him that he
        >stands lower than the animals because the animal still has no
        >understanding, no consciousness of his deeds. Man, however, even the
        >lowest, already has an ego. The more highly educated person can be
        >distinguished from the savage through the fact that he has already
        >worked on his astral body. Certain passions he has so understood that
        >he says to himself, "This one I may follow, this other I may not
        >follow." Certain urges and passions he fashions to more refined
        >configurations, which he calls his ideal. He forms moral concepts.
        >All these are transformations of his astral body. The savage cannot
        >do arithmetic or make judgments. This property man has acquired
        >through work on his astral body from incarnation to incarnation. What
        >develops as man gradually ennobles his present imperfect form to
        >become that being of light of whom we spoke; this is called the
        >assimilation of wisdom. The more wisdom the astral body contains, the
        >more luminous it will be."
        >
        >I assume Steiner means by the term savage a member of an aboriginal
        >tribe as can be found in a place such as Australia,or perhaps the
        >term savage even includes people such as native Americans. Does
        >Steiner really mean to say that an Australian aborigine cannot learn
        >arithmetic. There have certainly been aborigines who have attended
        >universities and earned degrees. I remember from an class I once
        >took in physical anthropology, that members of different species
        >cannot produce offspring. Human beings between different races can
        >certainly have healthy normal children. And therefore every human on
        >earth is a member of the same species. It appears from scientific
        >research that a very small group of humans gave rise to all humans
        >which are now dispersed all over the earth..
        > Steiner lectures " This property man has acquired through work on
        >his astral body from incarnation to incarnation". Does this imply
        >that "savages" on average are born with a lesser developed astral
        >bodies than those who began life in a modern nation state. I have
        >met individuals of any color or race, who don't fit into the savage
        >or cannibal category and yet are perfectly content to live their
        >lives "blindly following their passions".
        > I was disturbed reading the above quoted lines. Perhaps, I hope,
        >there is something that I don't understand correctly. I can't
        >believe that Steiner is a racist. Maybe somebody can shed some light
        >on this for me.
        > Holger.
        >

        _____________________________________________________________________________________
        Get more from the Web. FREE MSN Explorer download : http://explorer.msn.com
      • Nick Mandoki
        ... Steiner ... the Rudolf ... and ... a ... he ... (more - snipped) ... learn ... Hi Holger, When I read the quoted passage I understood the word savage to
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 11, 2000
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          --- In anthroposophy@egroups.com, holmar@j... wrote:

          > I found the following quote in the first of four lectures by
          Steiner
          > titled "Occult Signs and Symbols", which can be found on
          the "Rudolf
          > Steiner Archive" web site .
          >
          > "What does a man work into his astral body? What we call goodness
          and
          > common sense. If you observe a savage who is still on the level of
          a
          > cannibal, blindly following his passions, you must say of him that
          he
          > stands lower than the animals because the animal still has no
          > understanding, no consciousness of his deeds.

          (more - snipped)

          > I assume Steiner means by the term savage a member of an aboriginal
          > tribe as can be found in a place such as Australia,or perhaps the
          > term savage even includes people such as native Americans. Does
          > Steiner really mean to say that an Australian aborigine cannot
          learn
          > arithmetic. There have certainly been aborigines who have attended
          > universities and earned degrees.

          Hi Holger,

          When I read the quoted passage I understood the word savage to refer
          to mankind as he stood thousands of years ago, neanderthal man
          perhaps. I think mankind has progressed a considerable way since
          then.

          Of course, Steiner often points out that some people progress at
          different rates than others. At any given time, there are always
          people at varying stages of development. It would probably be true to
          say that there are still a few native or tribal races on the earth
          who are trailing behind the majority. However, I think it would be a
          little harsh to refer to them as savages. I think they have all made
          some considerable progress beyond savagery.

          > Steiner lectures " This property man has acquired through work
          on
          > his astral body from incarnation to incarnation". Does this imply
          > that "savages" on average are born with a lesser developed astral
          > bodies than those who began life in a modern nation state. I
          have
          > met individuals of any color or race, who don't fit into the
          savage
          > or cannibal category and yet are perfectly content to live their
          > lives "blindly following their passions".

          Forgive me if I misunderstand you here, but I think that what you are
          asking is "why should we regard somebody as a lesser human being
          simply because they were born into a particular race, or with a
          certain skin colour ?". On the surface, it sounds as though Steiner
          may be advocating this principle and you, quite naturally, find this
          abhorrent.

          The explanation for this is that our incarnations are not as random
          as they appear. Steiner indicates that a soul which is ready to
          incarnate will actually choose a suitable physical body and a
          suitable environment to incarnate in to - one in which they will be
          able to receive the further development they require. As an example,
          I remember Steiner saying how the soul of Mozart chose a musical
          family for his incarnation, specifically so that his musical talents
          would have a suitable environment in which to be nurtured.

          It is therefore true that people in less developed races do
          themselves posess under-developed souls. However it is also true, and
          frankly much better informed, to turn this around and say that people
          will be born into a race befitting there present level of soul
          development - and that this is necessary for them to have suitable
          oppportunities to develop further.

          > I was disturbed reading the above quoted lines. Perhaps, I
          hope,
          > there is something that I don't understand correctly. I can't
          > believe that Steiner is a racist. Maybe somebody can shed some
          light
          > on this for me.

          Elaine has already given a view on this matter which she says has
          been a matter of great contoversy within the Anthroposophical
          Society. Personally I have never been associated with the Society, so
          I would be unaware of that. However, my view as an avid reader of
          Steiner is that the only thing he could be accused of is sometimes
          being a little too honest. Nowadays people have to be very careful
          what they say lest it should be construed as racist - regardless of
          whether or not it is the truth. Steiner may have made a few such
          comments, but if these are understood correctly then it becomes clear
          that no racism was meant by them.

          I hope this has been of some help to you.

          Nick
        • arthra999@yahoo.com
          My own view regarding the terms used by Steiner such as savage and race and such is that these terms were widely used a hundred years ago by many people and
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 12, 2000
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            My own view regarding the terms used by Steiner such as
            "savage" and race and such is that these terms were widely
            used a hundred years ago by many people and reflected a world
            view that was likely eurocentric at the time... Most powers had
            colonies..... even Germany possessed some colonies in south
            Africa and some islands in the Pacific. America was largely
            racist and had colonies in the Phillipines and so on.... So the
            terms reflected a widely held world view of the time... We use
            "third world" and have-nots today or underprivileged that often
            have ethnic, racial and class connotations.

            I've seen the term "savage" used in many books written early in
            the twentieth century. So i think the terms used reflected the
            language of the day and the world views of Western Europe and
            the USA. They are "politically" incorrect today and we should be
            grateful for this, but Steiner's writings should be seen in the
            context of his time to a degree before we hang the racist
            appelation on him.

            Was Steiner a racist?... i doubt it. He was a Socialist before he
            was a theosophist ... probabaly a democratic socialist or Social
            Democrat. Socialists were opposed to class distinctions and
            worked for human brotherhood at least ostensibly. Many
            theosophists were former socialists... check out Annie Besant
            for example.

            Another issue is that simply because Steiner was German, we
            should not see him as a Nazi. Jung was also German. The
            Nazis of course would use everything in German culture as an
            evidence of the superiority of the Master Race... Goethe,
            Beethoven, Wagner, etc. One article i saw on-line used the
            symbol of the swastika in the emblem of the theosophical
            society as evidence it was pro- Nazi,,, and it had a picture of
            Steiner as well... So i think there's a lot of unjustifiable
            propaganda and wild allegations flying around.

            We need to take Steiner's writings as they are and see how they
            can be useful in our own spiritual science experimentation,
            growth and development.

            - Arthur Gregory



            --- In anthroposophy@egroups.com, holmar@j... wrote:
            > I found the following quote in the first of four lectures by Steiner
            > titled "Occult Signs and Symbols", which can be found on the
            "Rudolf
            > Steiner Archive" web site .
            >
            > "What does a man work into his astral body? What we call
            goodness and
            > common sense. If you observe a savage who is still on the
            level of a
            > cannibal, blindly following his passions, you must say of him
            that he
            > stands lower than the animals because the animal still has no
            > understanding, no consciousness of his deeds. Man, however,
            even the
            > lowest, already has an ego. The more highly educated person
            can be
            > distinguished from the savage through the fact that he has
            already
            > worked on his astral body. Certain passions he has so
            understood that
            > he says to himself, "This one I may follow, this other I may not
            > follow." Certain urges and passions he fashions to more
            refined
            > configurations, which he calls his ideal. He forms moral
            concepts.
            > All these are transformations of his astral body. The savage
            cannot
            > do arithmetic or make judgments. This property man has
            acquired
            > through work on his astral body from incarnation to incarnation.
            What
            > develops as man gradually ennobles his present imperfect
            form to
            > become that being of light of whom we spoke; this is called the
            > assimilation of wisdom. The more wisdom the astral body
            contains, the
            > more luminous it will be."
            >
            > I assume Steiner means by the term savage a member of an
            aboriginal
            > tribe as can be found in a place such as Australia,or perhaps
            the
            > term savage even includes people such as native Americans.
            Does
            > Steiner really mean to say that an Australian aborigine cannot
            learn
            > arithmetic. There have certainly been aborigines who have
            attended
            > universities and earned degrees. I remember from an class I
            once
            > took in physical anthropology, that members of different
            species
            > cannot produce offspring. Human beings between different
            races can
            > certainly have healthy normal children. And therefore every
            human on
            > earth is a member of the same species. It appears from
            scientific
            > research that a very small group of humans gave rise to all
            humans
            > which are now dispersed all over the earth..
            > Steiner lectures " This property man has acquired through
            work on
            > his astral body from incarnation to incarnation". Does this
            imply
            > that "savages" on average are born with a lesser developed
            astral
            > bodies than those who began life in a modern nation state. I
            have
            > met individuals of any color or race, who don't fit into the
            savage
            > or cannibal category and yet are perfectly content to live their
            > lives "blindly following their passions".
            > I was disturbed reading the above quoted lines. Perhaps, I
            hope,
            > there is something that I don't understand correctly. I can't
            > believe that Steiner is a racist. Maybe somebody can shed
            some light
            > on this for me.
            > Holger.
          • eurythmy
            ... I find that one has to find the mood in which one wants to read this text. One can substitute the term lower class to savage and have a field day, the same
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 13, 2000
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              ----- When I look at your quote in the first of four lectures by Steiner
              > titled "Occult Signs and Symbols>
              I find that one has to find the mood in which one wants to read this text.
              One can substitute the term lower class to savage and have a field day, the
              same if one put member of the third world or developing world.

              If one take a spiritual Science study mood it seems fairly obvious to me
              that Steiner talks about way to enlighten one's astral body, to prepare it
              for enlightenment, illumination as described in knowledge of higher worlds.
              The audience must have had a good level of complacency. So instead of his
              usual the present people excepted he speaks of a case of some one who is
              obviously not in the audience, as no cannibal was eating physically some one
              else
              He could have taken mild flaws of character, white lies, being very
              interested in making money for the well being of the family -some how mildly
              regardless of the social consequences, a turning of head at the sight a
              pretty man or woman etc. The audience would have thought yes but either this
              path demand such perfection I cannot follow it. Or never the less, as I
              recognise those traits in others, I still think they are not too bad
              fellows; is not one throwing the baby with the bath water?
              So Steiner probably takes an extreme case, extreme in the eyes of the
              audience, NOT NECESSARILY IN HIS OWN EYES, and so we are to day looking at
              it with our prejudices.
              FURTHERMORE taking the cannibal enables him to remind the audience that
              they are not so far off this stage and they can have some humility! One of
              the main trait of the savage cannibal is not an animal as some thought he
              has an ego, like every one in the audience. The man cannot do arithmetic and
              some in the audience could not do more than the very basic.
              Steiner takes this point to indicate that control of passion is not only
              a psychological self development affair but that maths are a gate way to
              self development and he often advocate it as a gate way to non perception
              not linked to the bodily senses, not dominated by the astral body or
              sentient soul.

              Our view of the world is different from early 20th century, in our daily
              life most of us have met non white people, if only in film or TV and have
              different sense perception of this problem, our astral body has been
              educated by these sense perception.
              What can one say of the aborigine or the pygmies or the red Indian or any
              other offspring of the early 20th century savage who spend his youth
              hunting/gathering and as a young adult goes to university? Is it a lesson of
              humility for "us" or had s/he a previous incarnation in a non-savage race!
              and then we are at the top again? This kind of general question is of no
              use, one has as always with fellow human being to look at the individual, to
              spiritually investigate. Not to stay in generalities. This domain of
              generalities is only there for us to understand certain basic laws of
              reincarnations, the new Lord of Karma is the great juggle of those laws, not
              their slave like the previous one.

              Yours
              Franky

              Original message:
              "What does a man work into his astral body? What we call goodness and
              > common sense. If you observe a savage who is still on the level of a
              > cannibal, blindly following his passions, you must say of him that he
              > stands lower than the animals because the animal still has no
              > understanding, no consciousness of his deeds. Man, however, even the
              > lowest, already has an ego. The more highly educated person can be
              > distinguished from the savage through the fact that he has already
              > worked on his astral body. Certain passions he has so understood that
              > he says to himself, "This one I may follow, this other I may not
              > follow." Certain urges and passions he fashions to more refined
              > configurations, which he calls his ideal. He forms moral concepts.
              > All these are transformations of his astral body. The savage cannot
              > do arithmetic or make judgments. This property man has acquired
              > through work on his astral body from incarnation to incarnation. What
              > develops as man gradually ennobles his present imperfect form to
              > become that being of light of whom we spoke; this is called the
              > assimilation of wisdom. The more wisdom the astral body contains, the
              > more luminous it will be."
              >
              >
            • starmann77@aol.com
              holmar@jps.net writes:
              Message 6 of 7 , Dec 18, 2000
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                holmar@... writes:
                << "What does a man work into his astral body? What we call goodness and
                common sense. If you observe a savage who is still on the level of a
                cannibal, blindly following his passions, you must say of him that he stands
                lower than the animals because the animal still has no understanding, no
                consciousness of his deeds. Man, however, even the lowest, already has an
                ego. The more highly educated person can be distinguished from the savage
                through the fact that he has already worked on his astral body. Certain
                passions he has so understood that he says to himself, "This one I may
                follow, this other I may not follow." Certain urges and passions he fashions
                to more refined configurations, which he calls his ideal. He forms moral
                concepts. All these are transformations of his astral body. The savage cannot
                do arithmetic or make judgments. This property man has acquired through work
                on his astral body from incarnation to incarnation. What develops as man
                gradually ennobles his present imperfect form to become that being of light
                of whom we spoke; this is called the assimilation of wisdom. The more wisdom
                the astral body contains, the more luminous it will be."

                I assume Steiner means by the term savage a member of an aboriginal
                tribe as can be found in a place such as Australia,or perhaps the
                term savage even includes people such as native Americans. Does
                Steiner really mean to say that an Australian aborigine cannot learn
                arithmetic. There have certainly been aborigines who have attended
                universities and earned degrees. I remember from an class I once
                took in physical anthropology, that members of different species
                cannot produce offspring. Human beings between different races can
                certainly have healthy normal children. And therefore every human on
                earth is a member of the same species. It appears from scientific
                research that a very small group of humans gave rise to all humans
                which are now dispersed all over the earth..
                Steiner lectures " This property man has acquired through work on
                his astral body from incarnation to incarnation". Does this imply
                that "savages" on average are born with a lesser developed astral
                bodies than those who began life in a modern nation state. I have
                met individuals of any color or race, who don't fit into the savage
                or cannibal category and yet are perfectly content to live their
                lives "blindly following their passions".
                I was disturbed reading the above quoted lines. Perhaps, I hope,
                there is something that I don't understand correctly. I can't
                believe that Steiner is a racist. Maybe somebody can shed some light
                on this for me.
                Holger. >>

                *******I believe if you look carefully you'll see it was you who brought
                'race' into the above quotes. They are about cultures. There are, in any era,
                more and less advanced cultures. The advancement of all mankind is centered
                in one or another, now Egypt, now Greece.. and souls go to the group they
                have an affinity for. Those who incarnate in the European nations or the
                Western world are (mostly) those who have attained a level of development
                where they can participate in it. An Edison or an Einstein would not be able
                to fulfill his karma if he incarnated in New Guinea among the savages that
                ate Michael Rockafeller some years ago, for instance.

                There is a great difference in the cultural development of different
                volks or peoples, and it's folly to ignore this in the name of some abstract
                idea of equality. The equality of all human beings as human beings has
                nothing to do with their cultural conditioning, which must be taken into
                account if you want to be realistic. You can't teach every child with the
                same methods regardless of where it's from.

                Certainly people born into a culture can decline and give in to their
                passions again, especially if the culture is degenerating, like some of the
                West---just compare the music it's had handed down to what most of its young
                people are listening to now and the effects the former and the latter have.
                But it's much harder for one from a culture low in certain values to go in
                the other direction. And those cultures do indeed attract souls with astral
                bodies appropriate to their level of development. Most souls go where they
                need to be.

                Dr. Starman
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